Understanding the Impact

Human traffickers thrive during crises

Every crisis makes people more vulnerable to labor and sex trafficking because of the disruptions to daily life – whether it is the loss of a home, job or access to health care or being unable to connect with support networks of friends and co-workers. These disruptions are especially devastating to those who are already vulnerable and hanging on financially. They become desperate for any way to earn money and survive.

As one trafficking survivor said recently, “Before COVID-19, we were ‘low-wage, low-skilled’ workers, but now, we are ‘essential.’”

However, this new label, “essential,” has not resulted in better pay or job security — quite the opposite, and this is where traffickers can enter the picture.

Trends in Human Trafficking and COVID-19

  • Police and child protection reports are down
  • Risks to online exploitation higher – especially for youth
  • Traffickers isolate victims
  • Travel is restricted
  • Millions out of work
  • Economic challenges greater for women, minorities and under-resourced populations
  • Higher than average unemployment, evictions and displacements
  • Options limited if survivors are exposed to or have COVID-19
  • Justice system impacts

The Irina Project

“The Irina Project,” based at the UNC School of Media and Journalism, monitors media representations of sex trafficking in local, regional, national and global settings. They advocate for the responsible…

Details